The term Neanderthal Man was coined in 1863 by Irish anatomist William King. Neanderthal is now spelled two ways: the spelling of the German word Thal, meaning "valley or dale", was changed to Tal in the early 20th century, but the former spelling is often retained in English and always in scientific names, while the modern spelling is used in German.
The Neanderthal or "Neander Valley" was named after theologian Joachim Neander, who lived there in the late seventeenth century. The original German pronunciation (regardless of spelling) is with the sound /t/. When used in English, the term is usually anglicised to /θ/ (as in thin), though speakers more familiar with German use /t/.
For many years, professionals vigorously debated about whether Neanderthals should be classified as Homo neanderthalensis or as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, the latter placing Neanderthals as a subspecies of Homo sapiens. However, recent evidence from mitochondrial DNA studies have been interpreted as evidence that Neanderthals were not a subspecies of H. sapiens. Some scientists, for example Milford Wolpoff, argue that fossil evidence suggests that the two species interbred, and hence were the same biological species. Others, for example Cambridge Professor Paul Mellars, say "no evidence has been found of cultural interaction". It should be noted that the fossil evidence for interbreeding is based on the shape, or morphology, of the fossils. DNA evidence to this point clearly favors no interbreeding, although it remains a possibility.
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